May 1, 2020

The magic of network TV now happens in living rooms

TV shows are going fully remote -- and it’s not easy

Let’s start with the bad news: Daytime soap operas are running out of episodes.

While shows like General Hospital keep dozens of hours of footage on reserve, they’re burning through supplies fast — no thanks to their daily release schedules.

To stem the bleeding from canceled productions, General Hospital has started editing in footage from its archive of 14k+ episodes — which is sure to cause deja vu: “Wait, didn’t this character already die and come back to life last year?”

Luke Bryan’s barn goes primetime 

A full-scale TV shortage is not likely to happen. Netflix, for one, has already filmed much of its slate through 2021.

But for a big sector of the TV world, there isn’t a Pandemic Plan C: The show must go on from your living room.

American Idol, which was supposed to move into its live-show phase right about now, just rolled out its first fully remote episode.

Producers shipped equipment — an iPhone, a ring light — to every contestant. Tech staff dropped by their homes to check the strength of their WiFi connections. On Zoom, the aspiring stars offered tours of their homes so Idol producers could pick the best backgrounds.

From behind the judge’s table, expect some glam shots of Luke Bryan’s Tennessee barn. His setup: 2 iPhones hooked up to a tripod, with a TV monitor balanced on a nearby barrel.

Everyone’s angling to be a director 

The stars of Keeping Up with the Kardashians also got iPhones in the mail, and a runner with E! comes by every week to pick up and upload the recordings.

When producers need to do extra interviews, lighting techs show up to the Kardashian households in masks and painter’s suits.

The Bachelor is considering a quarantine edition of its own. And the creators of Orange is the New Black unveiled a new show called Social Distance, an anthology series written and filmed remotely.

But if there’s one lesson we’ve learned in this brave new world of SNL: Live from the Basement, it’s that home-cut TV has its pitfalls. Just ask Good Morning America’s accidentally pantsless reporter.

Daily briefings, straight to your inbox

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less

Join over 1 million people who read The Hustle

Psst

How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

Join us, it's free.

Look, you came to this site because you saw something cool. But here’s the deal. This site is actually a daily email that covers the important news in business, tech, and culture.

So, if you like what you’re reading, give the email a try.